How to Better Cope with Transitions and Change

By UB’s Alyssa Yeo

Change comes in many forms. Regardless of how or when it occurs, we know that it forces you to evaluate yourself and your surroundings. You may question your current life situation, your goals, your intentions, and you may be a required to reroute your “plan” and figure out a way to adapt.  It’s difficult to find peace in these transitional phases of life. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s next breeds anxiety, fear, depression, and other uncomfortable emotions that can be difficult to overcome.

Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist and scholar, perceived life transitions as a “call to action” from the universe. He believes that each individual receives several different calls during the course of their life, with each one posing a threat to security or disrupting the comfort of our ordinary world. A call to action is powerful, and it presents a challenge or quest that must be undertaken but is often met with resistance. Campbell believes, however, that if an individual fully commits himself or herself to the adventure, they will uncover hidden powers and insights that move them closer toward reaching their full potential.

In other words, life presents challenges and opportunities for change that – if embraced – will lead you exactly where you need to go.  Your success depends on your willingness to embark on your adventure, as well as your ability to trust in the process.

Now let me ask you this: Have you recently experienced changes in your life that you’re struggling to adapt to? Are you questioning your current situation and wondering how or if it will ever get better? Do you find yourself comparing your life to others and wondering why you aren’t where you “should” be? Do you have anxiety about your future and your ability to accomplish your goals?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then I encourage you to think of all the thoughts and feelings that revolve around your current life situation. What is your internal dialogue? And within that dialogue, I ask you to identify your fears.

Are you afraid you’re going to fail? Do you fear you won’t be able to accomplish your goals in the time you expected? Are you scared of what others will think of you? Do you fear the consequences of your next decision?

Whatever fears you may have, consider them your demons. The very same thoughts and feelings that drive your desire to change are what stop you from doing so.  Consequently, our biggest fear of all is our own self.

Think about that for a moment. Our biggest fear of all is our own self.

To move forward you have to commit to your journey and overcome those fears that are making you feel helpless. The truth is, you have all the power to succeed – you have all the control. You are, at your core, the only person that can move you forward.

What can you do to confront those demons? Confront yourself.

Trust yourself

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell

Perhaps you are basing all your future decisions on the conditions of your life right now, instead of realizing that new directions, and new decisions in life, open new doors. You can’t possibly know what’s behind the door in front of you until you open it. And chances are, once you open that door, you’ll see a bunch of other doors that are waiting to be opened. The key is to not be paralyzed by all your choices – trust in your ability to make a decision on what door to open and open it.

Embrace change

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” – Joseph Campbell

When you are presented with a new situation that requires you to change your behavior, think about all the ways that this could positively impact your life. Preparation helps decrease our anxiety, so if we are unable to prepare for what’s next we can easily get caught up in anxious and fearful thoughts. We can’t possibly know what will come from change, good or bad, so why should we assume the worst? Challenge your need to prepare and your tendency to dwell on all the possible negative outcomes. Focus your attention instead on what you do know in this very moment, and have confidence that you will be able to handle whatever occurs next.

Be flexible

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

We often have set expectations for ourselves on what we “should” be doing and what our life is “supposed to” look like. These expectations add unnecessary pressure, and they end up making you feel bad about where your path has taken you. Rather than spending time and energy worrying about why you aren’t exactly where you thought you would be, try reflecting on all those things in your life that you are grateful for. Chances are, you weren’t able to plan for all of those situations, were you? Sure surprises in life can be scary, but they also can add wonderful opportunities that we never imagined. So it’s okay to let go of some of those rules and plans you have for yourself. Rewards come when you exist outside your limitations.

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